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How To Structure Your Concept Decks To Be Conversation Drivers

A concept deck is a collection of multiple concepts (usually in the form of a stack of printouts or a PDF).

In our experience, a concept deck can be used in a few different scenarios such as internal evaluation, consumer testing, and/or stakeholder collaboration. But what stays consistent is a concept deck's purpose.

A concept deck's power goes beyond simply presenting your concepts. The purpose of a concept deck is to drive conversation. More specifically, your concept deck should serve as a tool that drives the conversation you want to have, to propel your project forward.

Here are some pointers to help structure your concept deck in a way that'll drive conversation:

Start at the end

Before you begin constructing your concept deck, ask yourself: "What am I looking to accomplish"?

Do you need your concept deck to help you and your team down-select the concepts? Or perhaps you'll be using it to get answers and collect information from your audience. Maybe you're using your deck to involve key stakeholders in the design process.

Each of these missions calls for a slightly different approach to the concept deck. Clearly understanding your end goal, will guide you in how to structure your deck from the start.

Don't Overwhelm your Audience

You're typically going to have one hour or less to share and discuss your concept deck. That time will go by very fast and you want it to be filled with productive discussion about how to proceed, not absorbed by confusion.

So how do we do this exactly?

  • Use the title, subtitle, objective, and any additional context pages of your concept deck to remind your audience of the project's objective, what you're sharing out, and what you're looking to accomplish.

  • Avoid showing too many concepts. Thoughtfully decide what is the right number of concepts to show and then do the hard work of editing out the weaker concepts on your own time. Present your audience with a strong, but tight selection.

  • Order your concepts from mild to wild. Mild being the concept that is closest to home and/or easiest for your audience to execute. Wild is the most far-fetched idea for them. Ordering your concepts mild to wild will make your concept deck easier to digest as your concepts will start with the most palatable and then ramp up.

keep it focused

Each page of your concept deck should communicate one clear big idea to your audience. This is what will allow your audience to understand and participate in the conversation you want to have with them.

In order to keep each page focused on its big idea, give these tactics a try:

  • Pick just one layout to use across all of your concept pages, only changing the component of the page that you want to discuss.

  • Avoid the temptation to pack multiple ideas into one concept page. Each page should capture only one big idea since it'll only muddy your conversation to communicate more than one.

  • You don't want to inadvertently pull your audience out of focus. Scan your concept pages for any discrepancies or extraneous detail that might distract your audience from the big idea.

Help Them Reference

In today's virtual world, our audience can't simply point at our printouts like they used to. It may seem trivial, but concept reviews can quickly spiral into a navigational mess.

  • To save time and keep focus, help your audience discuss the concepts by giving them reference points. Concept names and page numbers give your audience something to call out instead of having to say, "In that sketch on the right... no the upper right... up... over... yea that one!"

  • To help your audience reference your concepts before and after you're there to present them, include a concise description on each concept page explaining what the big idea is and why it matters

  • When you walk your audience through your concept deck, you'll typically land on the last page of your deck when you transition from presenting to receiving feedback. Make that last page a comparison page that shows a side-by-side snapshot of each concept you presented. This will save you from having to jump around the pages of your deck to hunt down the concepts your audience wants to discuss. Instead, they can see all the concepts simultaneously and dive right into sharing their thoughts.

Concept decks can be powerful tools, but are often under leveraged. By applying these tactics we've been able to use our concept decks to drive productive conversation, propelling our projects forward.


We're sharing our trusty concept deck template with you. Tested and refined over 100+ client reviews, this proven template will allow you to put your energy into creating concepts, not presentations!⠀


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